Mapping Spirituality

April 15, 2006

[American Ethnic Geography]( “”)

As you can see by the map, I’m dealing with a lot of fucking Baptists.

It’s not easy being anything other than a Baptist in the south. I remember being 16 and going to this huge Baptist church in Flintstone, GA. They had this Wednesday-only event for Teens called, SWAT. I can’t remember what it meant. But they had Christian bands play, good message, but got where my budding cynicism kicked in. Having some kid get up and play a “Christian” version of Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive” was the beginning.

I had just spent my first “real” church experience in this little old Nazarene church. Not a bad church, lots of old (70’s and up) people and about 10 kids my age (10-16). I had a lot of friends going to this SWAT program, so I started going and eventually was asked to be “saved”. Mind you, I thought that “I” was the one who needed to come up with that idea. Granted, the first time I was saved it was on the side of a road by some strange people from one of the more cult-like Baptist churches in the area…but that’s another story entirely.

This time, I had this giant man, a coach I believe, ask me if I wanted to be saved, so I said “yes”. So they took me to this pew and they asked if I went to church before and I said something along the lines of “I went to a Nazarene church for years”. And this guy, Coach, wound up saying something along the lines of “well, I think they worship the same God”. And after that, I wound up being stunned for about 5 years. Honestly, I only went there about a year but it shaped my early impressions of what *I* wanted to be like spiritually….and it sure wasn’t “Coach”.

Part of the reason I identify more with the title of Agnostic, is because of events like that one. A few years back I went to a Baptist church, that I honestly enjoyed for a bit…they preached love and tolerance..enough to set me back on track. But that’s what it’s all about. Love one another.

Love and spiritually shouldn’t be based on an organization or a title, every religion has their basic tenets that have their equals among all of the religions. To step back and see this, makes it impossible for me to say that I’m Christian, Buddhist, or Pagan.

The problem, going back to the maps, is that I had this opinion in my high school years….way before I even knew what an agnostic was. So how do you self-identify when you have no one else to identify with?

I went to school with Atheists, a whole family of them, good people very nice and polite. But just SO outside of the norm of a rural high school. I went to school with about a thousand Baptists, a few Catholics (about 4), and two atheists. This is not diversity.

Unfortunately, I would see how people would use the church as their weekly little social club. Coming in and gossiping, dressing to the 9’s, just anything aside from worshiping a deity or deities.

You’re surrounded by this religious peer-pressure and not even allowed to discover who you are. We taught to be afraid of making decisions, we’re taught to be afraid of believing differently, we’re taught to be like everyone else. Maybe this is just from being a right-brained person, but with everyone being unique, why should I care about a pink-haired person going to church? Why can’t a homosexual worship God? Why can’t someone believe that there is a higher power and we just call them by different names?

We have all of these questions and so long as someone is a good person, with love in their heart, why should it matter what title they hold? Why do we have to try to convert these people to a belief structure that isn’t ideal for individuality?